Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Bob Simmons, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia With Love, JAMES BOND, Movie stunts, Oscars, Running Scared, Stagecoach, Stuntmen, The World Is Not Enough, Yakima Canutt
I’m back. Sorry for the interruption, especially right in the middle of my promised Oscars week on “As The D.J. Turns”. But it could not be helped.
The Oscars have been over for just under three weeks now, but a group crucial to making movies held rallies Wednesday calling for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Scenes to give them recognition.
According to published reports, a rally was held In New York City and in front of the Academy’s headquarters in Los Angeles by movie stuntmen calling for an Oscar to honor the best work of stunt coordinators. This is nothing new. Those in the movie stunt profession have been calling for this award for years.
The Academy at this point appears not in a hurry to create a new award and did not respond to requests for comment for a story that ran in the New York Daily News.
The story stated that those who want an award have been told that some Academy members want to keep stuntmen in the background to keep a dated belief of movie illusion. Or more simply put, that the movie viewer will continue to believe that it’s the actual actor doing the stunt and if you honor stuntmen you spoil the illusion for the movie-going public.
They have also been told some Academy members don’t want to add another award category because it will bloat the Oscars telecast even more.
Both opinions were countered in the story. The argument about movie illusion doesn’t hold water because the movie-going public is now much more sophisticated about how movies are made. And yes, the Oscars telecast is bloated. But would another minute make that much difference? If time is a concern, move it to the separate Oscars technical awards presentation.
Stunt work deserves its own Oscar. The Emmys have a stunt category for television work.
The movie-going public has enjoyed so many memorable moments because of the talent, courage and imagination of stuntmen and stunt coordinators. Honoring them at the Oscars is a no-brainer.
I have so many favorite movie moments that involving outstanding stunt work. Here are a few of them. . .
“Stagecoach” (1939) — Yakima Canutt is considered by many to be the pioneer of modern stunt work. He doubled for John Wayne when the scene called for him to leap from a speeding stagecoach onto the horses pulling the stagecoach and make his way to the front to regain control of those horses.
“From Russia with Love” (1963) — Who can forget the fight to the death in the train sleeping compartment between James Bond and psycho villain Red Grant? Bob Simmons, who was stunt coordinator for most of the Bond films from the 1960s to the early 1980s, was Sean Connery’s double and Jack Cooper doubled Robert Shaw, according to Simmons’ autobiography, “Nobody Does It Better.”
“Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) — According to “Nobody Does It Better”, Simmons was worried about making a fight in a tiny elevator between Bond and a character called Peter Franks interesting. It’s an incredible piece of action is such a tiny space.
“Octopussy” (1983) — Stuntmen B.J. Worth and Jake Lombard doubled for Bond (Roger Moore) and Khan’s henchman Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) as the script called for their fight to be taken outside Khan’s airplane during the film’s climax while it was in the air. Both stuntmen wore specialty-designed parachutes to be worn underneath clothing.
“Running Scared” (1986) — The producers might have made the boneheaded decision to use a shaving cream-like substance to simulate snow when the weather wouldn’t cooperate during filming. But the scene where Gregory Hines’ character repels from the top of the State of Illinois building to the bottom is impressive as is the chase scene from O’Hare Airport to the Loop which includes driving on a CTA rail.
“The World is not Enough (1999) — I consider it the best opening sequence of any Bond film with second unit director and famous stuntman Vic Armstrong and stunt coordinator Simon Crane doing outstanding work. It’s too bad the rest of the movie didn’t live up to it. It starts with Bond leaping out from what appears to be at least seven or eight stories up, holding a big briefcase and attached to nothing but a rope as he descends onto a street in Bilbao, Spain. It continues on the River Thames in London as Bond chases a villain to the Millennium Dome where he tries to stop her from getting away in a hot air balloon by grabbing and hanging on to one of the mooring lines.
UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .